(WKBW) The American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey says Western New Yorkers may be "missing the message' on colon cancer.
It released a report showing the percentage of colon cancers diagnosed at later stages, when there are fewer treatment options, has increased in three local counties.
Overall New York saw a 6.1% drop in later stage colon cancer diagnoses between the 1990's and 2000's.
Erie, Niagara and Cattaraugus counties are among only 17 New York counties where there were increases in later stage diagnosis.
Erie County saw a 7.9% increase in later stage diagnoses. Niagara County had an 11.7% increase and Cattaraugus County posted a 16.2% increase. All other counties in Western New York saw a drop in later stage diagnosis during the same time period.
Officials with the American Cancer Society say there may be many factors behind these increases, including poverty, a lack of transportation to testing and especially a lack of health insurance.
They say many people without health coverage don't get regular checkups and aren't urged to get tested for colon cancer.
Colon cancer is one of the few cancers that can be prevented through screening, and if not prevented, detecting colon cancer early greatly increases survival rates.
Everyone should have a colonoscopy by age 50, much sooner if there's a family history or other risk factors. Ask your doctor when it's best for you to be screened.